The Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam

Continuing my DUNE fan art series, here’s the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam. She is the terrifying sex nun who tutored Paul’s mother Jessica (and is maybe her mom), a prime mover in the history that leads up to the events of DUNE. It seems likely that she is at least a century old, maybe older, and shows no inclination to stop living.

The vision that I have of the Bene Gesserit, her order dedicated to a vast eugenic project dedicated to producing a controllable übermensch through selective breeding, is based in part on Frank Herbert’s Catholic hangups about women and sex, of course. But also they are so completely a part of the wide-reading Imperial (and shadow-imperial) power structure, I wanted to draw on imagery of mighty empire beyond European influences. So her mitre is Egyptian-inspired, her cowl is like a European monk’s her dress is Chinese, her shoes are Japanese, and the bodice is a combination of early Japanese armor and the Chimpanzee-caste apron from Planet of the Apes.

Of course someone who intends to control not only the destiny, but very feelings, of people will wear a veil. The veil is sufficiently transparent that she can still lie with her expressions, giving the viewer the impression that they understand her true intent.

Wheels within wheels.

In this moment, she’s on Caladan, leaving the Bene Gesserit convent to test Paul with the Gom Jabbar. She knows that this is a delicate time.

What are heroes like in The Fifth World? Absent sedentary, agrarian life, how do their culture heroes demonstrate the values of their society?
I have to think that the sexual politics of The Fifth World wouldn’t allow for the kind of shame and restraint that gives organizations like the Bene Gesserit their power.

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